romesco mexiterranean bistro / bonita, ca
My original interest in Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro was that I had seen them on Eater 38 San Diego list. And then I saw a coupon deal for them on LivingSocial (or something similar) which I bought and Jake, S. and I went for dinner one evening in late December. I didn’t have my regular camera with me at the time, only my iPhone!
[albondigas al chipotle – beef meat balls in a mild bacon chipotle cream sauce / $4.95]
Jake and I decided on a couple of appetizers for the three of us to share and Jake and I split an entree. This is the first item we got which were these delicious little meatballs. The bacon chiptole cream sauce it what really sealed the deal on this suckers since it was slightly smoky, slightly spicy, really creamy and just purely delicious.
[croquetas romesco – serrano ham with cheddar cheese and potato croquette / $5.25]
My eyes light up when I see “croquette” since I immediately think of the Japanese croquettes that I adore. These were similar to those except that they had more flavors added in, namely the cheese and ham. It came with a little dipping sauce that I don’t remember. What I do remember is that these were very creamy and smooth on the inside with a nice outer coating. It was sort of like a cross between the Porto’s potato ball coating with panko mixed in.
S. got a kid’s sized pizza for his meal and I didn’t take any good photos of that.
Jake and I shared this one. It came all together, they didn’t split it for us (we didn’t ask them to, either).
[beef milanesa napolitana – breaded steak stuffed with mozzarella and ham with marinara sauce and four cheese pasta / $24.85]
It probably doesn’t look like very much… but this is truly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had.
It’s stacked so it’s got the bread steak (you can’t really tell, but it’s like two pieces stacked) with ham and cheese in the middle and topped with the sweet, delicious marinara sauce. It’s like a really fancy Chicken Parmesan, but with breaded steak instead. The sauce did not make it soggy (YAY) and it was tender and super delicious. I’m glad Jake and I shared it since I don’t think I could eat it all on my own, but I kind of still wished I had it all for myself, hah!
The four cheese pasta was also very good – creamy, al dente, and just the right amount of cheesiness to pair with the beef. I also loved the baby veggies we got (baby zucchini is so cute to me) which were tender and delicious. Jake and I couldn’t stop talking about this meal for a couple of days afterwards!
Not too long after this, I got an invitation to come in to Romesco’s and I happily accepted, taking Jake, T, and Jake’s mom Carin with us for dinner.
I didn’t mention this above, but you get complimentary bread with your meal. They have olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the table for dipping. I like pouring in the olive oil on a plate and just putting a few drops of vinegar in to make it look pretty with little dots of dark color. On our first visit, S probably ate like two loaves all by himself. That kid can eat when he really likes something! The bread here is very good, nice and crusty and slightly warm.
Jake got a tamarind margarita. That stuff on the rim is totally bitter and I didn’t like it one but, but the margarita was okay. Not exactly my favorite, just okay.
I had a glass of Moscato (I don’t remember which one) which was good – but a little too much on the sweet side. I did ask for a sweeter wine though and our waiter, Gustavo, delivered.
We started out by trying a few mini tostadas. Each person got three mini ones to sample, included grilled octopus (above), orejas de mar (which is in the abalone family) and ahi tuna.
I ate the octopus first. I was told after I ate it that everyone could see the “suckers” sticking out on the other side of my tostada but I didn’t notice. If I had, I would have taken a photo of that side! The octopus was very creamy paired with whatever sauce they put on. The tostada shell was freshly prepared and quite crunchy, making for a really delicious bite. I was surprised by how much I liked it. I’ve had octopus one other time and it didn’t impress me much, so this was a much better experience.
The Orejas de Mar was not bad, but not really memorable to me compared to the octopus. The ahi I just barely tried and then gave us since I don’t like tuna at all. T’s favorite ended up being the ahi and it took him forever and a day to put the octopus into his mouth and to swallow… but also to his surprise, he liked it as well. Adventurous kid, that one is!
I can’t find this one on the menu so I don’t know the “real” name of it, but we were told it was Asian Pulpo (octopus). It was like a cross between a soup and a thick stew. The flavor of the whole dish is different that it looks since there’s a distinctly peanut/lemon flavor running through the whole dish – it made me think of eating Thai food with the flavor/aroma of the peanuts. In the end though I thought the citrus was too heavy handed and started overpowering the flavors. The octopus here was not as a tender as in the tostada.
[cazuelita de cachete de res – beef cheek tacos]
This is one of the (many) items from Romesco’s tapas menu – the beef cheek tacos. It had cubes of Mexican cheese on the top of it. The shells again tasted freshly made with the beef cheek’s inside – the beef cheek reminded me of machaca beef – pulled apart and kind of like stew. It was very tender and was a nice contrast with the crunchy shell. It was also a bit on the spicy side from the meat and from the salsa/sauce that is paired with it.
[grandmas tacos de fideo – spaghettini tacos with fresh cream, spanish chorizo, salsa verde and cheese]
Seriously, how many more courses were we having that evening? I had no idea at this point since we were seated and they just kept bringing out food for us to share on the chef’s whim. This is one of the items on the tapas menu that Jake and I were so curious about – because seriously? Spaghetti tacos? WHAT?
We split these in half so everyone could try a piece. The spaghetti inside of the taco isn’t like, all wet and al dente. It’s kind of a little more crunchy. You can see the ends are kind of burnt and I think they grill this. I liked the idea of this one, but while I was eating it, it was just kind of odd. The spaghetti itself doesn’t really have a lot of flavor and the strands kept falling out while I was eating it anyway. There isn’t a lot of sauce on the inside, but what was in there made it a bit spicy but it was mostly just dry spaghetti with a few other things thrown in that I couldn’t really taste.
We also had Gobernadores tacos – which had shrimp and cheese – that I enjoyed more than the spaghetti tacos.
[cazuelita de gamabas with shrimp, garlic tomatillo salsa, thyme, chili oil baked with feta cheese]
And then we got another shrimp dish! Seriously. It’s like a food parade up in here. Jake’s mom and I were the only ones that tried this. The tomatillo salsa was not bad, but not my favorite. The shrimp was nice and tender and the feta gave this dish a bit of saltiness.
The owner’s of Romesco also own a few other restaurants, including Caesar’s in Tijuana, the place that invented the Caesar Salad. Our waiter wheeled out this cart to make the Caesar dressing table side and I got up to watch him do it. He explained all of the steps to me as he eyeballed all of the ingredients into a very large mixing bowl. It smelled incredible and it was fun to watch him make it!
We all got to have mini samples of the Caesar salad that he created and it was very, very yummy. The flavors are intense and so full of flavor – much better than anything you get in a bottle.
We had long periods of wait time in between courses so I kind of thought we were done… and then they brought out this!
It’s Beef Short Rib with a cabernet sauce and yukon gold potato puree on the bottom. The short rib was incredibly tender and melt-in-your-mouth good. The sauce gave it additional depth and flavor to add to the richness. I didn’t eat much of it since I was getting pretty full, but what I did have was so, so good.
[tijuana’s border churros with dulce de leche dip, vanilla ice cream and ibarra mexican hot chocolate]
Surely everyone has a dessert stomach, right? These little itty bitty churros are so cute! These were obviously house made churros – they tasted fresh and had a good amount of cinnamon sugar topping. There was a little saucer of some really bomb dulce de leche that I pretty much poured over everything… the churros, the ice cream, those strawberries…
And this adorably freaking cute little cup of Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate?!@ I just can’t even tell you … so cute, and really good with that punch of cinnamon from the Mexican chocolate. The smallness helped me feel a little better about having dessert after such an epic feast.
To illustrate the smallness of the little cup.
Even smaller looking when Jake is doing it. Heh.
We had two wonderful visits with Romesco’s and I can wholeheartedly say that place DOES desire to be on the Eater 38 list. There are so many different things to try and sample here – and they have various specials and happy hours – like Tapas Tuesday with 1/2 price tapas, and Wednesday Pasta nights. There’s an Amazon deal going on right now if you feel like trying Romesco out for yourself – click here for that deal (*note, this is an Amazon Affiliate link, aka, I get some money if you buy through this link).
I feel full just writing this post. Hah!
Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro
4346 Bonita Rd.
Bonita, CA 91902
* Disclaimer – I was invited for our second visit and all of the food/drinks from that meal was complimentary. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions here are my own.